The LW30-39 target required a split of 2:07.54. Training times suggested that was within Clare by a considerable margin, which made it tempting (and risky) to look for something more challenging. The women’s heavyweight open British Record was an inviting target at a 2:03.19 split.
The strategy that we finally settled on was an unconventional one. Almost certainly the most physiologically efficient way of rowing a marathon is to start just fractionally slower than target pace, and very gently accelerate throughout the second half, albeit not by much. However with concerns about distractions on the day, and having tested out some strategies, we settled on rowing down to 30k to go at a 2:01 to open up a substantial lead on what was required. We knew we were running a risk at the end, but took our chances.
The row itself started well enough, averaging a 2:01.12 by 30k to go, giving Clare a lead of 2 minutes 37 ahead of world record pace (and 51 seconds ahead of the open British record). At that point the pace came back to around a 2:04 split or thereabouts, which is where it sat until 7k to go and by which time Clare had opened up a lead of 5 minutes 13 seconds on the world record (but now down to just 8 seconds ahead of the open British record).
Despite regular feeding and watering at least every 3k, things started to become very challenging with 7k to go. A recurring knee injury was showing signs of becoming a show-stopper, and the price for an aggressive start was making itself known. The priority became minimizing any further risk and getting safely to the end, which meant reluctantly letting the open British record go.
A 2:09 average saw 7k to go become 1k to go, by which point Clare’s lead on the world record was 4 minutes 54 seconds. Breaking the record by 5 minutes was all too tempting a challenge and hitting 1:52 splits towards the end saw a finishing time of 2:54:23.0…. 5 minutes 00.0 seconds ahead of the old record.
With about £3,500 raised for charity, it proved a successful and rewarding day out.